Canada: Dawn Doesn't Break Without Women In Trade

Last Updated: July 10 2019
Article by Jessica B. Horwitz and Margaret M. Kim

The Japanese proverb "dawn doesn't break without a woman" refers to the Shinto sun goddess Amaterasu. Revered as "the great divinity illuminating heaven," Amaterasu once blocked herself in a cave, causing total darkness to fall on the world. Only when she reappeared was the world once again bathed in radiant sunlight.

On June 14, 2019, at a seminar in Toronto, the Organization of Women in International Trade (OWIT) explored how women are shining new light on Canadian business opportunities with Japan. Bennett Jones hosted the seminar and panel members were:

Two key areas the panel discussed were:

  • the need for Canada to make the most of its first-mover advantage with the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP); and
  • business opportunities in elder care.

Canada's CPTPP First-Mover Advantage

The CPTPP strengthens the rules-based trading environment between Canada and Japan and provides enhanced market access for exporters and investors. With the United States not a part of the agreement, Canada currently has an advantage over American exporters. There is a great deal of room for Canadian exports to Japan to grow. Japan is Canada's fourth largest trading partner, but only accounts for just over 2 percent of Canada's exports. It is estimated that CPTPP will save $428 million in tariffs each year on Canadian exports, mostly in trade with Japan, Vietnam and Australia.

The CPTPP has already eliminated about 90 percent of Japanese tariffs, which will climb to 95 percent by the end of the phase-out period, as well as eliminating 99 percent of Canadian tariffs on Japanese imports, making Canadian products cheaper for Japanese consumers and Japanese goods cheaper for Canadians. In the goods sector, particular market opportunities for Canadian exports to Japan include pork, beef, poultry and eggs, dairy, fish and seafood, pet food, canola oils, wheat and barley, processed food and beverage products, spirits and wine, aluminum products, plastic tubes, iron and steel products, forest products, automotive parts and industrial machinery among others. In the services and investment sectors, opportunities exist in areas such as environmental services, R&D Services, recreational, cultural and supporting services, urban planning and landscape architectural services.

Furthermore, Canadian investors in Japan will benefit from the CPTPP's comprehensive investor protection provisions and a dispute resolution mechanism, and Canadian businesses with activities in Japan may make use of improved entry provisions allowing foreign personnel and their spouses to work in Japan temporarily for up to five years.

In the Bennett Jones Spring 2019 Economic Outlook, former Governor of the Bank of Canada, David Dodge, stressed how critical it is for Canada, "to take advantage of the preferential access we now enjoy as a result of the coming into force of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement on Trans-Pacific Partnership ... With the Americans having counted themselves out, this is a once in a century opportunity to make inroads into these markets and to consolidate our position."

Elder Care in Japan

Japan has the highest old-age dependency ratio of all OECD countries. There are now over 50 elderly people for every 100 working-age people in Japan. The ratio is projected to rise to 79 per hundred in 2050—the same year Japan's total population is projected to decline by one-fifth to about 100 million. This is creating many challenges for Japan, and new business and trade opportunities for entrepreneurs and companies, including women entrepreneurs, in Canada.

Asia Pacific Foundation Canada led the first women-only business mission to Japan in April 2019. Women entrepreneurs traveled to Tokyo and Kyoto to promote technology, services and consumer products for the elderly and aging in Japan. The country remains a world leader in robotics and has been on the cutting-edge of using technology to care for its senior citizens. Aging society demographics are also emerging in China (the world's largest economy by GDP in PPP), Germany (fourth largest by GDP in PPP), and other G20 countries, such as Italy and South Korea—driving further growth in the global elder care industry.

Doing Business with Japan

If you would like to learn more about CPTPP, please contact Darrel Pearson, Head, International Trade and Investment Group, Jessica Horwitz, Senior Associate in the International Trade and Investment Group, or Margaret Kim, Associate in the International Trade and Investment Group of Bennett Jones LLP.

More information on doing business with Japan and for women in international trade is available at:

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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